Talk:Parliamentary sovereignty

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Untitled

does the principle of parliamentary sovereignty survive accession yo europe?

In both theory and practice, it does not - the European Communities Act of 1972 states that EU (then EC) law overrides UK law when the two are in contradiction. Thus, the UK parliament does not have parliamentary sovereignty. --Oldak Quill 13:16, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)
This is wrong in theory and practice, and a little ignorant. In theory, why is it not still the case that the UK can pass a law removing the EC Act 1972? The courts have said, the only requirement is that it be made explicit that the Act should be removed in full, and governments can't pick and choose. Lord Denning said in Macarthys Ltd v Smith [1979] 3 All ER 325:
"If the time should come when our Parliament deliberately passes an Act - with the intention of repudiating the Treaty or any provision in it - or intentionally of acting inconsistently with it - and says so in express terms - then … it would be the duty of our courts to follow the statute of our Parliament. I do not however envisage any such situation … Unless there is such an intentional and express repudiation of the Treaty, it is our duty to give priority to the Treaty."
In practice, I see no reason why the people, and their representatives in a sovereign parliament, cannot decide they want to diverge in the way outlined. But, as Denning says, it's probably pretty unlikely, because the EU is quite a good thing for Britain, unless you're into counterfactual scaremongering. Wikidea 10:29, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
When thinking about the UK's entry into the UK it is important to remember the distinction between political and legal sovereignty. Legally parliament has the power to repeal the European Communities Act but this would pose major challenged politically and so is unlikely to happen. R.e.doolan (talk) 00:00, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Actually, I would argue that opposite. EU law is superior to UK law, but the UK Parliament *could* repeal the European Communities Act. This is in contrast to say the Canada Act or Australia Act. -- Roadrunner 13:23, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I think the UK parliament could easily repeal the Canada or Australia Acts - but these would not be recognised by the Canadian or Australian courts, of course. Morwen - Talk 07:17, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

i disagree in fact i believe that uk parliament coluld not easily repeal the canada or australia acts

I agree with Morwen - it's similar to the idea that the UK Parliament could validly pass an act banning smoking in Paris, but this law would be neither enforceable, nor politically viable Echo_park00 10:07, 4 Apr 2006 (UTC)

Further to what I just said - check Lord Reids dicta in Madzimbamuto v Lardner-Burke at [1969] 1 AC 645 if you have access to it in any form - this can be used as a basis for an arguement that Parliament can repeal previous attempts to restrict itself. And British Coal Corporation v The King supports my previous statement that as a matter of abstract law, the Canada or Australia Acts couldbe repealed - but not in practice Echo park00 13:28, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Parliament can legally repeal the Canada or Australia act and the UK courts will have to follow Parliament's wishes. However politically it would not be acceptable, and would not be applied by Canadian and Australian courts. However in terms of the UK's legal system they will be legally valid. It is always important to keep in mind the distinction between political and legal sovereignty. R.e.doolan (talk) 00:00, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Things to mention

  • Can Parliament amend entrenched parts of the Act of Union? Apparently, yes.
  • Has Parliament ever tried to bind a successor apart from this? What happened?
  • To what extent is Parliament allowed to modify itself or make constitutional changes? Even if Parliament is not allowed to enact law that a successor cannot repeal, can it alter the constitution of the successor to require 2/3 majority to repeal, etc?
  • What other countries have this doctrine? Has it existed historically anywhere?
  • The devolution section needs de-stressing and the European and Human Rights parts need emphasising. Morwen - Talk 07:17, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I believe (but am no law student) it applies in Australia and at least historically to the Australian states and territories. The Victorian Constitution, for instance, written prior to federation, claims that the Victorian Parliament has absolute power. I don't know if it ultimately lost this when it became a part of the Commonwealth (of Australia), and by the sounds of it no-one is sure because no-one's tested it (the preamble calls australia an indisoluble union, but that's the Preamble, not legally binding). Nevertheless, an act was passed by the Commonwealth Government in the last few years that Australian flag couldn't be changed except by referrendum: Whether the High Court would allow that to be repealed, and the flag to be changed, without referrendum is a different issue altogether. Probably it'd be politically very sensitive if anyone tried. OTOH, Considering that the Australian Constitution was accepted by referrendum, and can only be changed by referrendum, maybe the Parliament is not sovereign, but the people. Also, the High Court of Australia has judicial review capabilities similar to the US Surpreme Court's. Does this affect Parliamentary supremacy? I don't know. I'm not a High Court Judge. 203.82.183.147 08:30, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

  • Can Parliament amend entrenched parts of the Act of Union?

There is no concept of entrenchment in the UK constitution.

  • Has Parliament ever tried to bind a successor apart from this? What happened?

No Parliament can bind its successor.

  • To what extent is Parliament allowed to modify itself or make constitutional changes? Even if Parliament is not allowed to enact law that a successor cannot repeal, can it alter the constitution of the successor to require 2/3 majority to repeal, etc?

Parliament could in theory do anything, completely abridge civil rights for example. I don't know where the concept of 50% for a majority comes from, but it must be ancient. Parliament could pass a statue requiring a 2/3 majority, but it could never prevent a successor repealing the statue.

  • What other countries have this doctrine? Has it existed historically anywhere?

Not sure, but I would imagine many Commonwealth/Westminster system countries do. Deus Ex 14:58, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)

This point about altering the constitution of a successor is quite interesting, actually. You say that a parliament could not prevent its successor from repealing a statute that defined passage of a bill as occuring only when a two-thirds majority was achieved, but presumably it would take a two-thirds majority to enact the repeal! If this is true, a parliament could presumably insist on a unanimous vote for all future legislation, and its successor would only be able to repeal this by acting unanimously. I'd be interested to see more incorporated into the article about what various scholars have said about the precise implications of the presumed inability of a parliament to bind its successor. 86.136.6.239 18:08, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Parliamentary supremacy has also existed historicaly in parts of scandinavia


An additional datum in response to the question "Has Parliament ever tried to bind a successor apart from this?"... the Treason Act 1540, among other provisions, makes it treasonable to attempt to repeal the Treason Act 1540. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Danhatton (talkcontribs) 11:26, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

parliamentary sovereignty

i want to know if parliamentary soveignty still exist in the uk or not and also how the concept of parliamentary sovereignty has been eroded by the devolusion of powers to regional assemblies

Some not-too-bright kid trying to get us to do his homework, eh? --Breadandcheese 12:17, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Church of Scotland

While Parliament has granted independence to the CofS in religious affairs, does this mean its sovereignty has been restricted in any meaningful way? Does the 1921 Act not simply prohibit government and judicial interference?

I'm of the opinion (without actually seeking the Act in question) that it could be repealed and therefore is no restriction on sovereignty whatsoever. --Breadandcheese 12:18, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Development of English Parliamentary Concept of Sovreignty

Wonder if anyone thinks this should be expanded. No mention is made of the Bill of Rights in England, which displaced the earlier mutings by the judiciary in Dr Bonham's Case (1610) and the Case of Proclamations (1611) that the primacy of statute law was not certain.

Echo_park00 10:13, 4 Apr 2006 (UTC)

Statute of Westminster

"Following the Balfour Declaration, the Statute of Westminster 1931 established a status of legislative equality between the self-governing dominions of the British Empire and the United Kingdom, and provided that Acts passed by the UK Parliament would not apply in the dominions without a dominion's express consent."

This is how the Statute of Westminster is often described, but if you look at the article Statute of Westminster 1931, you'll see that the precise formulation of this change may need qualifying if we're being accurate (or pedantic, perhaps). The Statute says:

"No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend or be deemed to extend, to a Dominion as part of the law of that Dominion, unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof."

Notwithstanding what others above have said about the unenforceability of legislation affecting e.g. Australia, it looks as if this could be interpreted to mean that Parliament could indeed pass a law extending to such a country, provided only that it was unilaterally declared in the relevant act that it had been requested and consented to, regardless of the real wishes of whichever unfortunate former colony was being legislated for. Am I right? 86.136.6.239 18:08, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Correct as far as the Statute of Westminister, but this power to pass laws even at the request of the local parliament was removed in the 1980's by the Canada Act and the Australia Acts 24.206.109.229 22:31, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
However, the Canada Act (and presumably the Australia Acts) is itself an Act of the UK Parliament, and could be repealed by that Parliament. If you want to talk about political-practical limitations on parliamentary sovereignty, though, that's probably the most extreme hypothetical I could think of.--Rumplefurskin 20:49, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the Australia Acts refers to simultaneous acts in both the UK and Australia. Both had to be passed because of the complication over who had the jurisdiction.85.158.138.19 (talk) 12:58, 27 November 2012 (UTC)
Acts of Parliament, just like any other law, relies on the respect of those executing and interpreting it. So, yeah, presumably Parliament could enact legislation that referse specifically to some internal detail in Australia. But what would the point be? Who's going to execute that law in Australia? sebmol 05:04, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

theoretical viewpoints

does anyone else think it would be worthwhile to insert some information in relation to differing viewpoints on parliamentary sovereignty in the UK - Dicey, Wade, Jennings, with examples from case law? Could lend some new light to this topic. Echo park00 21:52, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Add away. I went to a talk the other day by Vernon Bogdanor - he thinks we are due a constitutional crisis, as a result of which either the supremacy of Parliament (i.e Parliament can do what it likes) will have to give way to the rule of law (i.e. the judges will be able to tell Parliament that it can't do certain things - like break EU law, or breach the European Convention on Human Rights), creating effectively entrenched constitutional rights, or vice versa.[1] -- ALoan (Talk) 23:09, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

The European and British Courts have the authority to declare incompatibility or to annul a law only because of an Act of Parliament, the European Communities Act 1972 which can be repealed by Parliament. Thus, Parliament theoretically remains (almost) entirely sovereign. There are a few sub-national entities in the world which *could* legally secede and become sovereign states. (The recent secession of Montenegro from its union with Serbia is an example.) By the same argument above, that means that these entities are also "theoretically sovereign" before secession? --131.215.155.154 05:08, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Examples

The intro mentions New Zealand, but the rest of the article does not mention it. Finland is mentioned in the main article, but not in the intro. What's up with that? Mdotley 21:44, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Rule of Law

I removed this (added by User:Ruth Baillie) from the article because it looks suspiciously like WP:OR. Reproduced below in case anyone can salvage it. --EdC 22:54, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

(Parliamentary supremacy as a concept is logically flawed. Its legislative supremacy is a doctrine established in case law not in parliamentary statutes, therefore the authority for the authority of statutes comes in fact from common law, making that particular doctrine of case law authoritative over the statutes drawn up by parliament. The existence of the common law doctrine of parliamentary supremacy proves that parliament is not infact supreme. Parliament cannot rationally legislate so as to give itself parliamentary supremacy because the rationale and justification of any such statute would be both circular and dangerous. If parliament could assert its supremacy on the authority that it thinks it is supreme what is to stop any rival body asserting the same thing. Being common law also weakens it as common law is subject to gradual change, parliamentary supremacy as a doctrine became much more clear following the civil war to reflect the changing political reality, if the political reality changes again so could the doctrine and its interpretation and application in the courts. So Parliamentary Supremacy was never a technical reality but a fiction employed by the courts, nevertheless this fiction approximates to a reality in practical terms. While the courts treat parliamentary statute as the highest form of law the situation is effectively that of parliamentary legislative supremacy.)
===Rule Of Law and Parliamentary Supremacy===
The central doctrine of the Rule of Law would appear at first to contradict with parliamentary supremacy, but Rule of Law in its barest form is essential for the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy. For ministers to be unable to act outside the powers given to them by parliament affirms the supremacy of parliament over the tyranny of government. Without the necessity for the executive to act within the scope of the rule of law parliamentary supremacy becomes superfluous. Raz’s conception that that the judiciary should be independent, that laws should not apply retrospectively and that laws should be relatively stable and clear produces no contradictions with the concept of parliament as supreme legislative body, it is only when the rule of law takes on a substantive form that such a conflict occurs.

It's not OR, it seems to be a rather strongly worded version of the 'Manner and Form' theory Jennings expounded in The Law and The Constitution. It was more of a critiqe of the orthodox dicean theory though than a statement that the entire concept of Parliamentary Soverignty is logically flawed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.48.73.89 (talk) 00:45, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Worldwide view?

What other countries have a concept of parliamentary sovereignty? Most do not, since they have entrenched constitutional provisions that cannot be altered unilaterally. The intro says that it applies in "some parliamentary democracies". Surely it is going to have a limited number of entries, since it doesn't make much sense to list all the countries that don't have a concept of parliamentary sovereignty. Aaronrp 19:30, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Parliament vs Treaties?

What happens if British law conflicts with an international treaty to which Britain is a party? My understanding of customary international law is that treaties can override national law - they don't always do it, but they can: many treaties work by requiring parties to pass legislation to implement them, but some are self-executing, and take effect directly. The Geneva conventions about war crimes are examples. Since the UK can enter into treaties without the consent of parliament (unlike most - all? - other countries), doesn't that mean that the government can effectively (albeit only in some circumstances) override parliament?

In the rest of the world, this isn't a problem, because of the involvement of the legislature in ratification - effectively, the text of the treaty, having been approved by the legislature, becomes part of the law. That said, there is a separate question about repeal - it's not clear if parties can withdraw unilaterally from all treaties, which means legislatures could be binding themselves. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.40.81.25 (talk) 17:33, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Whilst it remains theoretically possible to dissolve the Scottish Parliament, or legislate without its consent in relation to Scotland, such a move would likely force a constitutional crisis with Scottish Independence the probable result.

This feels like a sweeping and, on the face of it, completely unsubstantiated claim. Does anyone have a credible source on this, or is it purely speculation? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.152.141.144 (talk) 10:51, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

The United Kingdom parliament has supreme power over the whole of the United Kingdom, it is able to do what it likes. Ofcourse many actions it "could" do would have huge implications such as on the issue of the Scottish parliament. When devolution was passed it was very clear the UK parliament can suspend the Scottish parliament / Welsh and northern Ireland assemblies at any time, just like it can withdraw from the European Union, bring back the death penalty, introduce conscription etc. It is not speculation, its parliamentary sovereignty :) BritishWatcher (talk) 11:42, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/sovereignty.cfm - Heres a useful link on this matter BritishWatcher (talk) 11:45, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/2325833.stm - This was when the Northern Ireland assembly was suspended and power restored to westminister in 2002. The same thing can be done to the other devolved administrations, although i agree its VERY unlikely such powers would be used except in a major war. If there was a huge conflict (not like Iraq / Afghanistan) but one that was a direct threat to this United Kingdom, like a world war then devolution would probably be suspended. In such circumstances, there can only be one UK government as a unified war effort would be needed. BritishWatcher (talk) 12:00, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

repealing/amending the scotland act

'Whilst it remains theoretically possible to dissolve the Scottish Parliament, or legislate without its consent in relation to Scotland, such a move would likely force a constitutional crisis with Scottish Independence the probable result.'

I don't think it would force a Constitutional crisis since all the evidence suggests that Parliament has the legal power to repeal or modify the Scotland Act 1998. Regarding the political consequences we're just getting into blind speculation which is unworthy of anything claiming to be an encyclopaedia. In reality I'm sure the context of any such move would be important, for example if the powers of the Scottish Assembly were significantly curtailed during a legitimate national emergency, I doubt Scottish independence could be said to be a probable consequence. Alternately what if the Westminster government stepped in after the Scottish Assembly started passing draconian and unreasonable legislation or perhaps if there was a massive political scandal that eroded public trust in the Assembly to the extend that it became unworkable.

Anyway I just I would raise the issue. Has anyone got any objects or shall I edit the last bit out of the article and replace it with something like 'such a move would probably be politically difficult in practice'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.152.143.145 (talk) 15:06, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. There are many circumstances where suspending devolution would be fully justified and supported there for the unsourced claim that suspension would result in independence is simply incorrect. I like the wording you suggest (or likely instead of probably) and support the change. BritishWatcher (talk) 15:22, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Dubious

I'm afraid that the examples of EU member states (Finland and UK) are incorrect. Thoburn v Sunderland City Council clearly established that EU law has supremacy over English law. Other legal cases in other jurisdictions confirm the basic point: the legislatures in individual member states are not sovereign. --Mais oui! (talk) 11:57, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

While EU law is currently supreme over UK law, however parliament can at any time vote to leave the European Union and changing its laws to whatever it sees fit, while this.scenario is unlikely it does give Parliament in the UK ultimate sovereignty.
I have serious problems seeing the European Union accepting any member states leaving the union, once entered. There is no explicit right to do so and any debate I have watched about the topic (having implicit right to leave) has always had "experts" and politicians claim that there is no right to leave the union, explicit or otherwise. Regardless, as long as a state is a member of the European Union, the European Union is, in fact, sovereign over that state and whether or not it can leave, is a pointless debate.
There is indeed an explicit right and it's dealt with in Withdrawal from the European Union. Lamberhurst (talk) 21:13, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
In terms of the UK's constitution Parliament has the power at any time to withdraw from the EU. This will be politically very hard, and maybe impossible. However it is important to always have in mind the distinction between political and legal sovereignty. They are two separate issues. R.e.doolan (talk) 00:00, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

parliamentary sovereignty / parliamentary supremacy / territory under UK parliamentary rule

It would appear that some people are confusing what are three different things. The UK Parliament passing an Act recognising or granting legislative independence (Statute of Westminster, Canada and Australia Act etc) does not in anyway affect the concept of parliamentary sovereignty just the territory under UK parliamentary rule. Likewise devolution and creation of a Scottish parliament does not in anyway affect the concept of parliamentary sovereignty but it does impact on UK parliamentary supremacy. I've added "Irish Free State (Constitution) Act 1922" because from a Dicean point of view that did affect the concept of parliamentary sovereignty and was not just a loss of territory. It may be that Scotland goes the same way.

With regard to everyone's favourite topic, is parliament still sovereign under the EU, clearly UK parliament has a degree of supremacy but it is hard to see how it is still sovereign. 'In theory' the UK could repeal the accession but equally 'in theory' the EU could abolish parliament. Perhaps we should wait until one or the other is put in practice?--Utinomen (talk) 14:27, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

With respect, I believe you are mistaken. Parliamentary sovereignty and supremacy are essentially the same thing. It was by virtue of Parliament's sovereignty, i.e. its power to make and unmake laws, that it was able to enact legislation which was to have supremacy vis-a-vis Canadian or South African law etc. Recognition by Parliament that its laws were no longer supreme in these territories, by passing the Canada and the SA Acts, formalised the loss of sovereignty. Devolution is different in the sense that Parliament has chosen to delegate its sovereignty in certain areas to entities created by law, which can be abolished just like the GLC in the Local Government Act 1985. Likewise, EU membership depends on the acceptance of Parliament, as embodied in the ECA 1972, to abnegate its sovereignty by allowing the EU to legislate in certain areas and for that legislation to be supreme vis-a-vis UK law. The 1922 Act is superfluous, given that the loss of sovereignty/supremacy stems from the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Finally, the EU does not have the power to abolish a parish council, let alone Parliament. Lamberhurst (talk) 13:01, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
The problem is, I suggest, the concept of parliamentary sovereignty! And the source of the confusion is the invention of the 'king-in-parliament'. If sovereignty is indivisible Canada act etc cannot be loss of sovereignty it can only be loss of territory. The Queen is still sovereign over Canada, but the Queen-in-parliament is no longer sovereign over Canada, that does not make sense so how does that work? It can only be that the Queen is the sovereign and that Queen-in-parliament is supreme, there is a split. And in the USA is not the federal government supreme but the people/states sovereign? Is not the split then because supremacy comes from sovereignty making it secondary and subordinate to sovereignty? If sovereignty is indivisible devolution cannot be delegation of sovereignty, so what is it? It must be supremacy that is affected in some way. Well, the EU may not have the power to do anything but why then do the peoples of the British Isles obey it? do they recognise its supremacy, its sovereignty or both? As far as I am aware the EU regards its existence as deriving from the treatys and institutions created etc, not from the will of the UK parliament. EU laws do not derive from UK Parliament, the UK parliament process EU laws; presumably then if the EU law required the end of the UK parliament the UK parliament would process that - it would be not different that the Acts of Union with the UK parliament in the position of say the Irish parliament.--Utinomen (talk) 00:23, 12 August 2010 (UTC)
The Queen-in-Parliament is, as you rightly say, no longer sovereign over Canada, but the Queen as constitutional monarch is still recognised by Canada as head of state on terms set out in Canadian law. Sovereignty may be indivisible in theory, but not in practice [2]. EU law is enforceable in UK municipal law only by virtue of the ECA 1972. No Parliament can bind its successor and therefore no Parliament could legally ratify an EU legal act purporting to abolish it. The Acts of Union 1800 provided for the merger of the Irish and English parliaments, something which cannot be done with the EU which is entirely different in structure and has a specific role for national parliaments. Lamberhurst (talk) 17:00, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
So presumably parliament is not bound by the Treaty of Paris or the Indian Independence Act then? If parliament is not bound by the Irish Free State (Constitution) Act 1922 what would happen if parliament chose to legislate for southern Ireland? All parliaments presume to bind their successors, but its only binding in so far as future parliaments can unbind themselves, but that would not apply of course if parliament was not in existence to unbind itself or did not have the force to back it up as with the examples just given. I am happy to accept that under the present EU constitutional arrangement the UK parliament would have to pass an Act to abolish itself, however that is not to say that under a future EU constitutional arrangement the EU could not itself abolish parliament, perhaps after a time when parliament had withered away and was visibily redundant (through regionalisation for example) and was thus of no further use to EU citizens. However, the question here is parliamentary sovereignty and "certain degree of institutionalised influence which was expanded under the Treaty of Lisbon to include greater ability to scrutinise proposed EU law" would seem to confirm that parliament no longer holds sovereignty itself. If editors prefer the idea that sovereignty is divisible rather than indivisible then surely that leaves it open to endless arguments about who holds what part, and which part is more important and why, and how can one be both sovereign and subject at the same time, etc?--Utinomen (talk) 20:59, 21 August 2010 (UTC)


Scotland

The section on parliamentary sovereignty in Scotland needs sorting out. At the moment it starts... "After the Act of Union 1707 there remains ambiguity about whether the principle applies in Scotland. " I believe this gives undue weight to a minority point of view and there for it lacks neutrality and accuracy. It is generally accepted the United Kingdom parliament has supreme sovereignty over the United Kingdom and plenty of reliable sources can be found to back it up. The section itself goes on to say no court has challenged this, just that a few judges may have suggested it may not apply. There is a world of difference. The section should not mislead people by saying there remains ambiguity, it should say something like "Some people believe"... Just like some people believe Elvis is not dead. BritishWatcher (talk) 15:40, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

It is not a minority point of view and there remains ambiguity. It was questioned in MacCormick v Lord Advocate and Gibson v Lord Advocate by senior Scottish judges. The undue weight tag is unjustified and the reference to ambiguity is correct. Lamberhurst (talk) 21:52, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
It is a minority view, those few Scottish judges are in a minority. Nothing has challenged the United Kingdom Parliaments sovereignty over Scotland, and just recently the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Established by the UK parliament showed its ability to demand a change in the Scottish legal system, all be it simply demanding they comply with European conventions on Human Rights, something that applies to Scotland because of the UK parliament and the 1998 Scotland Act. BritishWatcher (talk) 22:03, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
It's a little bit more complicated than that. Just because the Supreme Court has the ability to give judgments on Scottish civil law does not mean that Scotland is obliged to implement those judgments. It does so, but it is not legally obliged. This is the point made by MacCormick, "the principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law". This was said by the most senior Scots judge at the time and has never been refuted. In fact, it was affirmed in Gibson. Hardly a "minority view". Please provide a reference for your statement that it is a minority view or remove the tag. Lamberhurst (talk) 22:16, 4 November 2010 (UTC)


[3] and [4] both describe parliamentary sovereignty. Neither makes any mention of this being an English only principle or it not applying to Scotland. The Scottish parliament most certainly is legally bound to enforce the UK supreme Courts ruling. The Scotland Act which gives the Scottish parliament and executive its power makes very clear it must comply with the European Conventions on Human rights. When the UK court rules it is violating those conventions it has to act. BritishWatcher (talk) 22:20, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
If the United Kingdom parliament does not have supreme sovereignty over Scotland, who does? BritishWatcher (talk) 22:24, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

(ec)Neither of those pages answers the point raised and would be hardly the places to discuss technical points of constitutional law. Please provide a reference showing that it is a minority view. Please also explain why the "undue weight" tag is justified. Lamberhurst (talk) 22:30, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Please provide sources showing this is a majority view? A couple of judges interpretation of the law in one case is not the majority view point. The Undue weight tag is because i believe this paragraph gives undue weight to the view of these few judges in one case. It should atleast start off by saying parliamentary sovereignty applies to Scotland as it is the UK parliament able to create the Scottish parliament / executive along with everything else, if the UK parliament does not have this power, who does? Then it should go on to explain devolution and the case ruling. the minority view point is currently placed first. The UK parliament believe it has supreme sovereignty over all of the UK, as the two websites i linked to state. BritishWatcher (talk) 22:33, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
The issue is not that the UK Parliament can legislate for Scotland - this is clear from the Acts of Union 1707. It is about how far that actually goes. In English law, the UK Parliament can pass whatever law it likes and the English courts will apply it. In Scots law, the position is far less clear and in particular Article XVIII of the Acts of Union provides that "no alteration be made in laws which concern private right except for evident utility of the subjects within Scotland". This was interpreted as pointing towards a more limited approach to the principle of sovereignty. The subject is given two pages in Hilaire Barnett's Constitutional & Administrative Law (2010). The facts are simply stated without any gloss. Lamberhurst (talk) 22:57, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
The primary/majority view is that the United Kingdom parliament has supreme sovereignty over the United Kingdom. Those sources state that is the case. The small number of judges of the court in question were on a court that the UK supreme Court is able to overall. AGain.. if the UK parliament does not have supreme sovereignty over parliament, who does? BritishWatcher (talk) 23:19, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
My concern is the way it starts giving far too much weight to the ambiguity and minority position. The section should start, Whilst parliamentary sovereignty applies throughout the United Kingdom, the issue has been raised by some Scottish judges court (case) which said... but so far no court has ruled against the validity of a UK parliament act. BritishWatcher (talk) 23:23, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Malta, Solomons, etc.

I have added a few more countries to the list. Peter Geatings (talk) 15:40, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

The Structure of the page

To me the structure of the page as it is does not make a lot of sense. Does any one have any ideas of how to improve it? R.e.doolan (talk) 00:08, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Should Parliamentary sovereignty in the UK have its own separate page? Does it make sense to divide the UK up into Scotland and then 'England and the UK generally'? R.e.doolan (talk) 00:08, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

PNG & Solomons

I would question the (unsourced) assertion that "Specific instances of parliamentary sovereignty exist in [...] Papua New Guinea [and] the Solomon Islands". Both of those countries have a written Constitution. Article 2 of the Solomons' Constitution Article provides: "This Constitution is the supreme law of Solomon Islands and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void." 83 provides jurisdiction to the High Court on matters of alleged infringement of the Constitution (albeit not explicitly by Parliament). Article 11 of the Constitution of PNG states: "This Constitution and the Organic Laws are the Supreme Law of Papua New Guinea, and [...] all acts (whether legislative, executive or judicial) that are inconsistent with them are, to the extent of the inconsistency, invalid and ineffective." Article 19 specifically says: "[T]he Supreme Court shall, on application by an authority referred to in Subsection (3), give its opinion on any question relating to the interpretation or application of any provision of a Constitutional Law, including (but without limiting the generality of that expression) any question as to the validity of a law or proposed law. An opinion given under Subsection (1) has the same binding effect as any other decision of the Supreme Court." Article 39, in particular, gives power to the Supreme Court to strike down unconstitutional laws, at least in certain cases; I would say there is clearly no doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty in Papua New Guinea. Though I would be honestly curious to see the rationale behind any source asserting the contrary. Aridd (talk) 21:41, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

If actually depends on whether or not the parliament can amend the constitution, codified or not, on its own by a simple majority, without putting forward the amendment to referendum or to parliaments of provinces. Peter Geatings (talk) 18:16, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
In PNG, per article 17, some parts of the Constitution can be amended by a simple parliamentary majority; others, by a three-quarters majority. There is no requirement for the amendment to be submitted to provincial parliaments; but then, PNG is (officially) not a federal state. In the Solomons, per article 61, the required parliamentary majority also varies, but there's likewise no mention of the provinces needing to be consulted. So I see what you mean about parliamentary sovereignty. It would be good to clarify the point within the article, though - preferably with reference to a source which actually applies the expression "parliamentary sovereignty" or "parliamentary supremacy" to those countries. Aridd (talk) 19:43, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

New Zealand

I'm not sure if this is complete:

In recent years, some legal experts have questioned parliamentary sovereignty.[5] Moreover, a few laws and conventions exist that limit the exercise of parliamentary sovereignty. For example, the maximum term of Parliament and some other matters relating to the electoral system may only be altered by a parliamentary supermajority or by a majority in a popular referendum.

I can't be bothered checking the source but I'm sure some legal experts have questioned parliamentary sovereignty so I"m not asking for removal of the claim. Yet at the same time, another common view mentioned in Parliament of New Zealand but not here is that the entrenched provisions technically can be altered without requiring either a supermajority or a majority from a referendum. While there are sections of the Electoral Act 1993 do entrench stuff like the maximum term of Parliament, [5], the entrenchment provisions themselves aren't entrenched so it's generally suggested you can just repeal the entrenchment provisions then repeal the entrenched the provisions. Even if you did try double entrenchment, it's not entirely clear if this would work or whether parliamentary sovereignty holds supreme (i.e. will the courts even rule against such a law?). (Note that because there's no clear basis for entrenchment, as it stands, there's also nothing stopping parliament from entrenching whatever they want, except for standing orders which requires that anything being entrenched needs to support of the same level of support needed to repeal the entrenched provisions which can of course themselves be modified meaning that theoretically you could entrench stuff with a simple majority.) See for example these sources [6] [7] [8]. Of course it's usually consider that attempting to modify or repeal anything that has been entrenched by a majority needed for the the removal, you'd provoke such a response (possibly including some sort of constitutional crisis if the GG gets involved) that no one would try, i.e. convention does work [9]. Nil Einne (talk) 22:37, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Finland to be struck from this list of countries

Finland has a constitution to be obeyed by (ordinary) parliamentary acts, and this hierarchy can be tested in court (section 106 of the constitution), so Finland should not be mentioned in this list of countries with a 'sovereign parliament'.--Bancki (talk) 14:07, 22 August 2012 (UTC) I second this, if it is true what is said in the Finland section: "all Finnish courts of law have the obligation to give precedence to the constitution when there is an obvious conflict between the Constitution and a regular law" then Finland, while it may have a powerful legislature, does not have a truly sovereign one.--90.199.141.31 (talk) 01:21, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

90.199.141.31 is me from a year ago, and if no one objects I will probably be bold and remove Finland as an example from this article.--146.90.245.55 (talk) 02:25, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
the Parliament of Finland says "The new Constitution of Finland has strengthened Parliament's role as the supreme organ of state." And Parliament can change the Constitution with a majority in two consecutive parliaments. Based on this, i oppose removing Finland from the Article and instead support incorporating this wording and refs into the Article.
http://web.eduskunta.fi/Resource.phx/parliament/aboutparliament/presentation/history.htx
http://web.eduskunta.fi/Resource.phx/parliament/relatedinformation/constitution.htx
--Whizz40 (talk) 12:30, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't see why the fact that Finland's parliament can amend the constitution with a majority in two sessions means it conforms with parliamentary sovereignty. That is still a special enacting formula, significantly more difficult than ordinary legislation. Additionally, "supreme organ" could simply mean "most powerful organ", it does not necessarily imply the organ has absolute power, as is necessary for parliamentary sovereignty.
But I'm not arguing that Finland does not conform with parliamentary sovereignty, just that if it is to be listed here, we should have reliable sources stating that it does and present those sources' arguments, not the original research which currently occupies in the section. As it turns out a quick Google search seems to suggest there are reliable sources which hold Finland conforms with Parliamentary sovereignty - for example this blog post lists Finland as an example of parliamentary sovereignty and, while a blog post is not really a reliable source, it lists books on Finland's constitution which are (unfortunately it doesn't give page numbers). Ideally we would cite those books in this article because as it is the section is original research. The blog post seems to suggest, for example, that Finland's courts have no power whatsoever to strike down legislation, if so that would seem to contradict the statement made in this article that: "all Finnish courts of law have the obligation to give precedence to the constitution when there is an obvious conflict between the Constitution and a regular law".--146.90.245.55 (talk) 03:37, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
i agree, the concept of parliamentary sovereignty is relevant to Finland, and the section needs editing to be an encyclopedic summary with inline citations. I think the blog article is a good source to quote because it is written by an accomplished academic.--Whizz40 (talk) 23:42, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

As per paragraph 74 of the Finnish constitution and paragraph 69 of the Åland autonomy act, the national parliament may not violate or amend the Åland autonomy without consent of the Åland parliament. Even an unanimous parliament passing a constitutional amendment is not allowed to violate the autonomy.

On the other hand, you can argue that this is comparable to a bicameral parliament. The national parliament and Åland parliament together are sovereign, although neither of them alone is. 130.102.158.21 (talk) 01:22, 9 July 2014 (UTC)


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